Are all salespeople extroverts on the hunt for power? PerformanSe has explored the data from a sample of 30,000 people who took its psychometric tests on behavioural preferences and motivational drivers at work. Its aim: to identify what characterises each function on a behavioural level. Statistical analysis of sales function data had a few surprises in store…
What differentiates sales representatives from other functions?
We have observed that sales populations significantly stand apart on three main criteria. The first is extraversion. ʺAnalysis of our data shows that sales people are far more extroverted than average, which shows up as interpersonal ease and great facility speaking in public”, explains Alexandra Didry, R&D Manager at PerformanSe. Statistically, salespeople also have a strong desire to gain the upper hand over others, reflecting a certain thirst for power. Lastly – and this is where they most stand out – they score very high on self-affirmation. In other words, the sales population is the one most self-confident out there. These three combined personality traits attest to an above-average self-image, which broadly supports the stereotype often associated with the function”, admits the expert.
Some widely held assumptions taken apart
However, as soon you dig a bit deeper into the statistical analysis, the photofit picture of the sales representative is less intuitive than one might imagine. For example, it is often heard that sales representatives need to be ready to listen to their customers to understand their needs. However, the results of the study show that the profession as a whole does not have a higher-than-average propensity to listen than others. “Salespeople do not necessarily engage in empathetic and emotional listening, but that doesn’t mean they don’t intellectually understand the needs of their customers”, specifies Alexandra Didry. The same goes for the fighting spirit, independence and perseverance which, contrary to popular belief, are no higher among sales representatives than in other functions.
Banking versus Consulting
The analysis lastly reveals interesting differences by sector of activity. ʺSales representatives working in the world of business consulting are almost always pitted against those working in banking or insuranceʺ says PerformanSe. The former are much more extroverted and laid-back than the average in their profession, and show particularly low levels of anxiety. Conversely, the sales populations in the banking sector are slightly more extroverted than those of other functions, such as IT or HR professionals. ʺGenerally speaking, there is an adjustment in employee behaviour to corporate culture. This is all the more true as it is characterised by marked social codes and standards of behaviourʺ, Alexandra Didry offers.
Download the PerformanSe guide and find out what data analysis has to say about behavioural differences by business sector!
“Salespeople do not necessarily engage in empathetic and emotional listening, but that doesn’t mean they don’t intellectually understand the needs of their customers”
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